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Virtual Chat: Exploring Extension’s Role in Disaster Response and Mental Health & Wellness

Click here on Wednesday, May 19th at 2 PM ET to join this virtual chat for Extension professionals! A Connect Extension account is required to participate.

In this chat, we will explore Extension’s role in facilitating conversations around mental health and wellness. We will also discuss the challenges faced and the lessons learned by you, an Extension professional working with communities impacted by disaster.
Across the country, disasters impact individuals, communities, and the capacity of the Extension system to provide resources supporting disaster recovery and promoting resilience. These incidents and threats affect livelihoods, well-being, and impact the prosperity of communities – places we live, work, and volunteer. Furthermore, since these incidents and threats are complex and multifaceted they affect many areas of our lives: healthy lifestyles, child development, families, businesses, agricultural systems, and local economies. Compounding disaster-related stress with other variables like economic security and COVID-19 isolation leads to a need in mental health services.We are mindful that just as disasters are local, every community’s needs are unique so we cannot utilize a cookie-cutter approach to each community’s conversation on mental health and wellness. Instead, we serve as facilitators and providers of education and resources to support the communities as they take their own lead to support the resiliency of their residents.

Susan Harris, Co-Moderator

Susan is a Nebraska Extension Educator with a statewide role focused on Rural Health, Wellness, and Safety. Susan co-leads the NU Rural Family Stress and Wellness Working Group and the Wellness in Tough Times Project team. Susan’s work includes farm safety and she is a member of the AgrAbility team.

Julien Hoffman, Co-Moderator

Julien Hoffman joined Nebraska Extension as the Community Engagement and Wellness AmeriCorps VISTA member. During her service term, she is providing leadership to rural wellness projects by designing and implementing a delivery plan to improve the reach and sustainability of these projects in disaster-impacted communities.

Soni Cochran, Co-host/Moderator

Soni Cochran is a Nebraska Extension Associate with a statewide role focused on Community Engagement and Wellness. She is a member of the NU Rural Family Stress and Wellness Working Group and the Wellness in Tough Times Project Team. Soni is a certified Q-P-R Gatekeeper instructor and provides wellness programming in communities. Soni is also a member of the Nebraska Extension Disaster Education team and an EDEN delegate.

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